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The Seva Story: Q1 2022 Newsletter

Updated: Feb 1


Seema Jain

Happy New Year from the Seva Global Team. Our small but mighty team has done an incredible job in 2021 and is ready for an exciting 2022! Last year, we served more than 15 organizations, helping them enhance their cultural competence by learning "the differences that make a difference.” Liz, Sanjana, and I work seamlessly together to provide great insights and tips to our clients. This year, we are expanding into new industries, such as real estate and healthcare, to reach even more people with cultural competency learning.

We added new reviewers to our newsletter team to get different perspectives on our work including Dr. Anita Chandra-Puri (Pediatrician at Northwestern Medicine), Matthew Asbell (Principal Attorney at Offit Kurman), Caren Naidoff (Attorney), and Heather Carnes (VP of Marketing & Communications at Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA)). Thank you to all our reviewers for sharing your diverse viewpoints.

We were thrilled to work with new customers such as Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. We also participated in several webinars including SCORE, Fordham University Law, and AAHOA. To all our readers – we are so thankful for your patronage and support as we continue toward the goal of bringing our cultural diversity expertise to others to foster greater harmony and unity in our world.

Be safe. Travel wisely. Be culturally competent.


photos and dates for major holidays in 2022

THIS EDITION'S CULTURAL COMPETENCY TIP: This year we’re introducing a new section where we’ll provide readers with a cultural competency tip in each newsletter.

One of my favorite tips is “When in doubt, err on the side of formality.” Many cultures around the world use formality in verbal and written communications. They address others with honorific titles like Mr. or Mrs.; Herr and Frau; San; or Señor and Señora. The U.S. has an informal culture where it is generally acceptable to address higher level executives by their first name. I will never forget the first time I met the late Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson in an elevator at Marriott headquarters in 2012. I was tickled to meet someone at his level and said, “How are you doing, Mr. Sorenson?” He immediately said in his charismatic voice, “Oh, please call me Arne.” I was shocked! Growing up as a first-generation Indian, I was never allowed to use first names for elders or people of high stature.

Since most of the world uses formality, it is best to address someone with their honorific title and allow them to give permission if they prefer to be called by their first name. Many Asian cultures, Latino cultures, and others adhere to formality, hierarchy, and status. If you have a story related to this tip that you would like to share with us, please email

NEXT CHAPTER: A new Seva Global product will be debuting soon! Seema Jain has started the new year by launching her own blog on topics that she finds relevant to the cultural competency space. The blog is called Cultivating Cultural Competence, a platform where Seema will provide insights and anecdotal experiences from her own journey, as well as share key knowledge and recommendations she has learned through the years. This blog was created to share more about cultural competency and how it touches many aspects of our lives from personal to business. These monthly posts will begin on Friday, January 28. Check back at this link to follow as we plant the seeds to grow cultural knowledge across our world.


Seema’s 2022 travel calendar is back up and running! If she is in your city and you’d like to schedule some time together for an in-person visit, please let us know.

  • Orlando, Florida – Monday, January 10, 2022 – Wednesday, January 12, 2022

  • Washington, D.C. – Tuesday, January 18, 2022 – Thursday, January 20, 2022

  • Punta de Mita, Mexico – Sunday, February 27, 2022 – Tuesday, March 1, 2022

  • Baltimore, Maryland (AAHOA Convention) – Tuesday, April 12, 2022 – Friday, April 15, 2022


Each edition, of The Seva Story highlights a selfless service, or seva, from one of our subscribers. This issue, we are highlighting Safe Place International.

Safe Place International is a U.S.-based nonprofit that serves LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers across the globe. The organization seeks to significantly improve the opportunities and individual and collective life experiences of these community members.

Currently, 33 shelters are funded and supported by Safe Place International around the world, supporting more than 400 LGBTQIA+ refugees. These shelters are located in seven different countries: Mexico, Guatemala, Turkey, Greece, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya.

By providing essential services such as housing, food distribution, and healthcare, Safe Place International stands out in its dedication to the stabilization and self-actualization of community members. Through its 10-week socio-emotional learning and employment training program, called The Dream Academy, Safe Place International empowers participants to envision a better self and pursue a greater future.

Do you have story depicting how you or your organization perform seva? Let us know how you are helping a customer, colleague, community, family, or friend with cultural competence! You can send your “mysevastory” to Elizabeth Vukovich at


By Matthew D. Asbell, Principal Attorney at Offit Kurman, New York Office

Matthew D. Asbell

In the practice of law, cultural competence can greatly impact efficiency and satisfaction. It can mean the difference between being retained or overlooked by a potential client, keeping and losing an existing client relationship, spending time on providing legal services versus performing more administrative tasks, settling and escalating a legal dispute with an adverse party, and collaborating successfully with diverse colleagues and alienating them. How?

  1. Culturally competent attorneys are more approachable to prospective clients. Our efforts to demonstrate a desire to connect with potential clients of different backgrounds – whether by writing or publishing in their language or by utilizing social media platforms that are popular in their country or culture – we invite those clients to communicate with us, where they might otherwise have been intimidated or uncomfortable. For example, when writing to colleagues in China, I use a different email signature which includes the QR code to connect with me on the Chinese social media platform, WeChat. A German colleague at my firm publishes a newsletter on U.S. legal issues in German. I use my Portuguese language skills when communicating with clients in Brazil, and this gives them some confidence that they not only have an attorney competent in the substantive law, but also a friend that will look after their interests.

  2. We can more readily resolve disputes with adverse parties on behalf of our clients because we are more likely to understand the other side’s perspective and approach the possibility of settlement as a mutual compromise that addresses the priorities of both sides. I have been successful in achieving a very complex settlement with a Japanese adversary by understanding the adverse party’s formal approach to the terms and where disagreements resulted from translation rather than an ability to compromise on the issue.

  3. Cultural competency also contributes to greater success in collaboration with diverse colleagues within our firms because we treat each other with respect and appreciation for our differences. This creates an environment where colleagues of different cultural backgrounds are comfortable and thrive, and where they are less likely to want to leave for another opportunity. My own efforts in this regard have been to spend less time asserting my position with a colleague, and more time listening to and learning from him or her.

Seva Global offers a wide array of services to foster cultural competence across organizations. Through our customized solutions and consultations, we can help to increase employee engagement, enhance customer experience, and drive bottom line results. Our goal is to help teams become more culturally competent when engaging with people from different backgrounds. We would love your feedback on this newsletter. Please share with anyone you think it may interest!

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